Although Shaun and his fellow Mossy Bottom Farm sheep will never replace Wallace & Gromit as my favorite Aardman characters, they get themselves into a fine mess in “Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas.”
Yes, basically every Shaun story, in feature film, short film, TV series or holiday special, is about he sheep making mischief and creating mayhem when they get off the farm. But this time there’s snow!
The story involves the eyeless (and Muppet-like) farmer whipping up a not-quite-lethal batch of holiday home brew that he bottles for the town Christmas Fair as Shaun and his non-speaking (save for bleats) flock DIY decorate their barn and Christmas tree with freshly-laid (and painted) eggs, assorted household appliances and the bonnet badge on the farmer’s truck.
Dressing as Santa and taking his trusty dog — who tried to “save” the botched batch of punch that the farmer overloaded with salt — the farmer sets off for the fair. But the lamb of the flock mistook the eyeless Santa for the real one and stowed away on the truck.
Shaun, the lamb’s ewe and four other sheep wangle their own ride to town in pursuit. Things get really complicated when a little girl is given the gift box that the lamb is hiding in. The kid’s a hyperactive moppet, the indulged daughter of the TV chef the Farmer whose recipe for grog he copied, half of a lifestyle show’s husband/wife star couple.
The sheep must track the lamb to the country house of the couple, foil the kid and outrun her parents. The dog tracks the sheep, as his life’s work is tidying up the sheep’s messes and keeping them on Mossy Bottom Farm.
If it ever got out that they were getting out, the Farmer would replace him, I dare say.
“The Flight Before Christmas” starts slowly and gets up a fine head of steam by the top bottles of the home brew pop, creating a cork ricochet incident that tickles.
A mistletoe vendor sells a lot of sprigs, and stuck under another kisses…the cold hard cash she’s collected so far tonight. The Farmer gets mistaken for the “real” Santa and is mobbed at a “Tell Santa what you want for Christmas” event.
Skiing/sledding gags, a Roomba run amok bit — there’s just enough going on to keep the littlest kids interested. And a tiny dollop of heart helps.
They’ll never be Wallace & Gromit, but Shaun and his sheep will do until they run out of reasons to slip off the farm.
Credits: Directed by Steve Cox, story by Giles Pilbrow and Mark Burton. An Aardman film on Netflix.
Running time: :30